Fun funky mixology
Nam Phu Fountain Square, Vientiane
T: (021) 244 288
While most of the city’s nightlife is based along the river and the nearby roads, Deja Vu is a cubbyhole at Nam Phou fountain square.
It’s been around for a decade and it managed to survive the fountain’s 2012 flashy redevelopment. It remains discreet, with just a sign on the door saying ‘yes, we’re open’ to reveal itself and entice you in.
A single long bar dominates the narrow room illuminated by lava lamps. It feels like stepping into that cool friend’s bedroom you were so envious of when growing up, full of collectable toys and road signs. The atmosphere is welcoming and fun, but don’t assume the drinks aren’t taken seriously. There’s a menu but no one uses it. Just leave it to the owner who is a maestro mixologist.
Trained in Tokyo, Say has some exotic and exciting cocktails up his tattooed sleeves. He’s laidback and easy to chat to, and your initial conversation has him profiling you for your personal perfect cocktail. Tell him what you like (strong, sour, fruity, bitter), your favourite colour, your mood or what’s off-limits (“I haven’t had tequila since the summer of 2013 when I woke up missing a toe”) and let him rustle you up a drink that, more often than not, hits the spot.
Say is Lao and speaks an insane number of languages including English and Japanese. He still divides his time between Vientiane and Tokyo which means the bar tends to be open for a month, then closed for a month. Cross your fingers and pray to the Lord of the Drink that he is in town when you are. As he is friendly and sociable, the bar attracts the same clientele.
Each cocktail is around 50,000 kip. A warning: he has the occasional habit of offering a shot of absinthe or vodka on the house to see you (stumbling) on your way back to your hotel. Hiccup.
Enjoy Deja Vu while you can. The owner will likely be looking for a new location in 2016 and because he’s a nomad, you never know where or when Deja Vu will settle down.
By Cindy Fan
Last updated on 8th July, 2015.